Tag Archives: books

A Different Sort of Day

Had bacon sandwiches for breakfast.

Did some decluttering and deadheading.

Had an argument about the best way to declutter. I, as usual, was wrong. It seems it’s far better to move lots of stuff multiple times and pile it up dangerously rather than just doing it once in a structured and stable manner. However, my way takes thought and it would involve me making decisions instead of just doing what I’m told.

We had lunch at McDonald’s, where they were having a “Bring Your Own Idiot to Work Day” judging by the service.

After that, we managed to hunt down a charity shop with a parking space outside. They now have eight bags of books we have more carpet to hoover.

Many of the books are cookery books. You can buy some excellent cookery books from charity shops for £2 or £3. However, I rarely use them much (usually only a couple of recipes) and they then gather dust.

Today, with some wax polish and an old vest, I removed the dust and added some gloss before returning them to the charity shop system.

My X-Ray appointment today did not go as well as the last one. Instead of same day service and ten minutes from start to finish, I had to wait three days for the appointment and sit in a stuffy corridor for an hour.

You would assume they had a great array of techniques and equipment to X-Ray fingers. They are tricky things to photograph from the side as you have to avoid taking all the others at the same time. With a metal plate (which I’m sure they used to use in the old days) and some gaffer tape I could have easily rigged something up, but with me holding the unwanted fingers out of the way and one wedge of blue foam it takes a while.

It’s nice to know that you get better service when they are looking for lung cancer than when they are looking for arthritis. Having said that, you still have to wait 7-10 days for the results whether you have a terminal condition or difficulty holding a pen.

I don’t, by the way, have lung cancer. I have a cough. That’s why I went to the doctor – pills for a cough, not an X-Ray followed by pills for a cough seven days later.

This is a good thing as I’ve just spent £300 on two new dental crowns. It would have been annoying not to get the use out of them.

There’s no point having the nicest teeth in the cemetery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scone Chronicles XVIII – Bakewell Pudding

The header picture is Julia sitting outside the Bakewell Pudding Parlour. Last time she was left to her own devices here she ended up buying macaroons. I’d forgotten all about that, and, once again, failed to supervise her in an appropriate manner. She emerged with teas, bakewell puddings and cheese pasties. She keeps feeding me despite my diet. When I say pasties, by the way, they were monstrous. They were big enough to use as hats. It seemed rude not to eat it, even though it contains a possibly lethal dose of fat and calories.

 

However, I’m not going to talk about pasties, because this is a chronicle of scones. So I’m going to talk about Bakewell Puddings. There’s only so much you can say about scones, and I’m short of ideas for places to visit at the moment. My brain seems to be working rather slowly at the moment. I swear I’ve declined in intelligence over the last few months. Much more of this and I’ll have no option but to embark on a political career.

The Bakewell Pudding, as made in Bakewell, is not the same as the shop bought Bakewell Tart, which is generally an iced cake in a pastry case.  I’ve not made a Bakewell of any type myself, though I have made frangipanes with Cape Gooseberries (physalis, inca berries, ground cherries – it has so many names).

Today’s puddings were great – flaky pastry cases full of sticky deliciousness. Julia didn’t care for them, preferring something less sticky. It’s an ill wind that blows no good, or, in other words, I ate hers too.

In truth, they will never replace scones, but they are a pleasant change and it seems silly to go all the way to Bakewell to eat scones.

 

I also bought a few books, so it was a good day.

A Difficult Day

There were 21 parcels to pack this morning according to eBay, but in reality there were only 15 because six of the orders had come in on Saturday afternoon and we’d already packed them.

Fifteen is still enough.

When I arrived, via a blood test and McDonald’s, there was a telephone van outside the shop but he drove off as I unlocked. I went in, set everything going, and settled down to do the questions. There were five questions, one of which didn’t merit an answer. I wasn’t able to answer the other four so that was soon done.

Then I listed the items that needed packing, reached for the first one and started to pack. I pressed the button to find the address, and the internet died.

When the boss arrived ten minutes later I was busy switching off, restarting and prodding the reset button with a paperclip. And muttering.

He revealed that there was a telephone engineer outside again. On enquiring about our service, we were told he couldn’t possibly be to blame as he didn’t know which wire was ours.

Neither of us found this terribly convincing as any idiot with a tool box is capable of causing disruption, regardless of knowledge.

We struggled through the next hour using the boss’s phone and an unsecured BT account we found whilst searching.. It was slow and tedious.

Then, as if by magic, the internet returned. We looked out of the door and found that the telephone engineer had gone.

That’s a coincidence isn’t it?

Despite this we managed to get all the parcels packed and despatched. We also managed to serve a rush of customers, who started coming in as soon as the internet flickered back to life. It was almost as if they knew we had things to catch up on.

At least I didn’t have time to be bored.

In the afternoon I got rid of four bags of books, coughed a lot at the dust and got told off by Julia.

It’s been a difficult day.

The picture is a Great Tit in the Mencap Garden. There were several about with nesting material in their beaks when I was down on Friday. As usual, I couldn’t get a decent shot so this one, with no nesting material, will have to do. I’m going to try again tomorrow.

The Scone Chronicles XIII

And yet again – no scones.

The venue was the bookshop at Brierlow Bar and though Julia looked carefully, she could see no scones.

She did, however, buy two slices of glistening home-made cake. It looked sumptuous. And delicious. And once again I had to relearn that tough life lesson that looks can be deceptive.

As you may have noticed, I’m not the cheeriest or most modern of people and I am suspicious of change. I’m still not fully convinced that the bookshop needed a cafe, or that a crowd of people and dogs is of benefit to a bookshop with narrow passageways. I’m almost certain that anyone who parks a pram in a gangway, so that fat men with walking sticks nearly fall over getting past, should be prosecuted by social services and their children put into a gloomy gothic orphanage.

In a way it’s a shame I didn’t fall as the combination of damp floor and blocked gangway is a dream for an ambulance chasing lawyer.

Much as I despise the current compensation culture it would be fun to sue and make a few cogent comments to the court about people running cafes in a space that should be filled with books.

I’m not sure whether I would then give the money to Julia for a new polytunnel or burn it on You Tube just to prove a point. (The point being that the money wasn’t important, not that I am stupid).

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Good in Parts

Anyway, back to the cake. It was apricot and some sort of nut. Julia was in “Bear of Very Little Brain” mode and forgot the details on the way from counter to table. You’d have thought she’d have been brighter after an hour and a quarter of top flight conversation with me in the car, but apparantly not.

It tasted a bit like walnut, but there was definitely a large identifiable piece of cashew in there too.

I said: “Cashew!”

Julia said: “Bless you.”

After you’ve been married 30 years this is what passes for humour.

It was confusing cake because some of it tasted of ginger too. The top, where the glaze had soaked in, was nice and moist, but the lower two thirds was dry and quickly reverted to crumbs. Fortunately we had cake forks to deal with this problem.

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Appearances can be deceptive

To sum up, and to put my personal bias to one side, the tea was good, as it always is (made with proper leaves and a strainer), the ambience is getting better as they sort things out, the cake could have been better, but even that wasn’t too bad, and the book stock seems to have improved.

I’m actually quite impressed with what they have done at Brierlow Bar, despite my resistance to the 21st Century.

 

Wasted Wednesday

Had a lie in this morning before dragging myself from bed, fighting with my trousers (second leg only, the first goes well most mornings). and eating breakfast.

Then I lost control of my day as Julia took over, sorting, decluttering, throwing away.

It’s not easy. We’ve just about filled the first skip and haven’t made much impression on the clutter mountain. I also had six bags of clothes in the back of the car, four bags of books and a bag of recycling.

However, when we left the house, the first job of the day was to buy replacement ear rings for Julia, who lost one yesterday. The books went to Age Concern, just along the road from the jeweller.

Then we went to a clean Salvation Army clothing bank. The local one is surrounded by rubbish and broken glass and we’ve stopped using it. After that we went to a supermarket car park with the paper recycling and did some shopping. Pasta bake again tonight.

After that it was Flu Vaccine for two and then home to tidy up.

We ran into some friends we hadn’t seen for a while when we were in the surgery – a sign of getting old I suppose. They are our age, but are grandparents now and have many more health conditions than we do. It sets things in perspective when you realise how ill some people are. When I’ve spoken to a man who takes 20 pills a day my five don’t seem too bad.

Julia is out at a meeting, as I write. She never stops.

I’m going to make tea in a minute.

It doesn’t seem much of a day. No visits, no scones, no bookshops. Pretty pointless really.

The featured picture is a fallen leaf – very haiku. It’s a reminder that I didn’t get my nature walk today.

 

 

Sundays and Self-Improvement

I’m currently reading yet another self-improvement book. I can’t recommend it as I’m currently wondering whether to carry on reading it, and one of the few things that I have learned from it is that extremely successful people say “no” more often than people who are merely ordinarily successful.

So I’m close to saying “no”, I won’t waste more of my life on this book. It’s strident in tone, doesn’t really explain the concept of being extreme and isn’t giving much in the way of insight.

Fortunately, being a Kindle book, it was cheap, it hasn’t killed a tree and nobody else will have to suffer as I can’t pass it on.

It’s even worse than the last one. I decided I would benefit from a book on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. So far, I haven’t. I kept falling asleep when I read it. This probably isn’t the fault of the book as I have a habit of buying psychology books despite knowing that they have a soporific effect on me. I’m going to persist with this one as I think it has something for me.

I can finish most books, including the one about eating frogs. It isn’t really about eating frogs, but it does offer an extended, and overdone, metaphor. It was irritating but useful.

For some reason the writers of self-improvement books really have it in for frogs, as do Victorian scientists.

A couple of weeks ago, I listened to a radio programme on self-improvement and research suggested that by the end of a self-improvement book you feel worse about yourself for failing to be the person the book implies you should be.

The strident book mentioned in the opening paragraph is a bit like that, and tells you that you should write all your failures in a journal as this helps you get over them. I’m currently failing to make the change from self-employment to employment, and did wonder, momentarily, whether to write it all down. I’m not sure, but if I do you will be the first to know.

The picture shows a cream tea that came off second best when it went head to head with me on Wednesday. It wasn’t the greatest cream tea, but it does have a link to self-improvement and failure in that one of my long-standing self-improvement targets is to lose weight.

That cackling sound you hear is 2,000 calories laughing ironically.

And that concludes my thoughts for Sunday morning.

Another quick post

Sorry about the lack of application but I’ve had another action-packed day.

First off, a lie in, followed by a late breakfast of sausage, bacon, beans and potato cakes. It was an excellent breakfast cooked by my dear, kind wife.

I feel I have to call her that because (a) she is dear to me (b) she is very kind and (c) she is still grumbling that I forced her out of bed to make me breakfast. It was 14 hours ago, can she not forget?

I’m arranging breakfast tomorrow. McDonald’s, eaten in the car on the way to work. We can pretend we’re high-powered executives.

Next, we went to Men in Sheds to have hot cross buns with the old codgers. They are looking forward to Spring. Julia has been hatching plots and extracting help and equipment for the MENCAP garden. We heard the tractor running and watched the plough go up and down on the newly repaired hydraulics.

I didn’t take any pictures because I was feeling miserable and in pain. It was, I suspect, a combination of too much walking the night before, and the thought of returning to the farm.

Whatever it was, a couple of hours later I was feeling much perkier and navigating my way round a bookshop. I have a new Janet Evanovich whodunit to read and a book about Great War tanks. I’m being very careful about book buying these days, as I’m still giving bags of them to charity, and I want to make sure I’m giving more away than I buy.

Finally, we met up for a family meal as my uncle and two of my cousins were down in Peterborough visiting my Dad. It was a convivial party, ending with the male faction taking on the pudding menu as the female contingent looked on and thought virtuous thoughts.

Uncle Tom tried the Gin and Tonic trifle and the rest of us stuck to apple crumbles. The apple crumble was excellent. The trifle, we were told, picked up towards the bottom half. That would be the half with the gin-soaked sponge…